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Date posted: February 09, 2013
By MIFTAH

Last week, roughly 200 Palestinian activists and supporters set up tents in the southern Nablus village of Burin, dubbing the new village Al-Manatir. Burin is surrounded by two settlements and is regularly under settler violence. Israel responded by shutting down the area, preventing more activists from approaching the site, and fired tear gas and sound grenades, injuring more than 20 Palestinians. The settlers attacked the villagers as well, raiding them with rocks, fire-bombs and gunshots, one of which shot a 16 -year old Palestinian in his thigh. The Israeli army arrested seven Palestinians during the clashes. The following day, February 3, about 10 military vehicles assaulted the village and arrested 22-year old Muhammad Najar.

The raids also took place in the nearby village Urif, where two Palestinians were detained, Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem, where nine were detained, as well as one arrest in Nablus and another in Hebron.

The arrests continued onto the next day, Monday February 4/ as an Israeli spokeswoman confirmed that 25 Palestinians had been detained, 23 of whom are affiliated with Hamas including PLC members. Hamas official Atallah Abu al-Sabh warned that the illegal arrests were going to obstruct the reconciliation plans between Fatah and Hamas because the arrests couldnít have taken place without high-level security coordination between the PA and Israeli authorities. However, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrwai remarked that the detentions were Israelís invasion of Palestinian domestic politics.

The Israeli army even managed to detain two children and their grandmother while they were trying to visit their father imprisoned in Israelís Negev prison and is serving a 15 year sentence. The two little girls were confined until 1 am until they were handed over to Palestinian security officials and spent the night in Hebron. Their grandmother continues to be held in Israeli custody.

On Tuesday, February 5, an Israeli army representative announced that 12 Palestinians were arrested overnight due to ďillegal activity.Ē Meanwhile, courageous prisoner Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for six months now, has stopped drinking water and taking vitamins and any medication. His weight has dropped to 47kgs and he is suffering numbness and severe cramps. A doctor has notified him that his heart could stop at anytime. Palestinian officials are calling for his release and also for the closure of the Ramleh Prison Clinic where Issawi and other ill prisoners are held, saying it is not properly equipped as a medical facility.

Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Abbas called for the siege on Gaza to end during his speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit in Cairo on February 6. He said that Fatah was collaborating ďvery honestlyĒ to end the split with Hamas, however summoned world leaders to not make independent political visits to Gaza because such actions will strengthen the division. Abbas said the quickest way to end the division is by carrying out Palestinian elections. He also pressed the OIC member states to financially support Palestinians through their crisis caused by Israeli policies. Abbas is preparing for a two-day summit by joining Islamic nationsí leaders in order to assemble a meeting which will include a special session to discuss a draft a resolution on Israeli settlement expansion in Palestine. Hamas also pressed the OIC to take immediate action to protect Al-Aqsa Mosque, and remove the Gaza blockade, urging for them to boycott Israel economically and politically to stop the attacks on Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.

On the other hand, Palestinian leaders welcomed the announcement of US President Barack Obamaís visit to Israel, Palestine and Jordan, which is scheduled to take place next month. Palestinians are expecting Obama to address the deadlocked peace process and ways to re-launch it. Ashrawi called on the Obama administration to be impartial towards Israel and Palestine.

On February 7, Khalid Abu Rayaleh was released six months earlier from Israeli prisons after serving roughly 21 years for being a member of Hamasí Qassam Brigades. On the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting with leader of the Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid, in order to discuss his objectives for a coalition of center, rightist and religious parties. The most important foreign policy issues included the frozen peace talks with Palestinians and a potential Israeli military strike on Iran.

An Islamic Jihad delegation crossed through Rafah on February 8 into Cairo to attend the meeting of Palestinian factions on national reconciliation. Fatah and Hamas are scheduled to meet on Sunday, February 10 in Cairo to discuss their vision on forming the new Palestinian government. Hamas is still against the cabinet being composed of technocrats, and rather wants political representatives from both factions. Also, it is calling for any formation of a new government to be approved by the parliament so that it can be considered a legal entity instead of only having political and symbolic weight.

President Abbas met with Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Shalah and his deputy Ziad al-Nkhaleh to talk about putting the stalled unity deals into action and discussed the upcoming PLO reform meeting to be held this week in Cairo. Islamic Jihad and Hamas are slated to attend the meeting, which is aimed at restructuring the PLO to include all Palestinian factions, including these two. The Islamic Jihad has said it would most likely participate in PNC elections because it Ďincludes all Palestinians everywhereĒ.

Meanwhile, the CEC is slated to begin voter registration in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on February 11 but is waiting for the final approval of the leadership following the Cairo reconciliation sessions.

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